At least 11 people have been killed and several others injured in fresh attacks in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
Our correspondent learnt that four suspected cultists linked to the attack have been killed in a gun battle by men of ONELGA Security, Peace and Advisory Committee, OSPAC, the local vigilante in the area, while one of the suspects was arrested.
It was also gathered that some unidentified gunmen in a separate attack stormed Egbeda-Emohua Local Government Area, leaving seven persons, including a lawyer dead and several others injured before escaping.
A youth leader in Egbeda said: “Unknown gunmen invaded from ONELGA and opened fire on residents in the early hours of today (yesterday). “After the hoodlums, suspected to be same killers of Omoku residents, left, seven bodies were recovered from different locations in the community.”
On the shootout between OSPAC and hoodlums near Ahaoda, a source within the community said: “We learned OSPAC heard that Don Waney’s boys were moving into ONELGA for another attack, so OSPAC intercepted them near Ahaoda. They killed four and apprehended one.”
Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Zaki Ahmed, who reacted on the attacks, confirmed the Egbeda-Emohua incident, and according to his records, only one person was killed.
“I can confirm that an incident did happen at Emohua community. Gunmen came on motorcycles, opened fire on people and ran off as fast as they came. One person was killed.”
He added that more security operatives have been deployed to quell further attacks
Meanwhile the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike said the attacks and several others recently recorded in the state were plots to make his government appear not doing enough in protection of lives and property.
The governor stated this on Thursday, during a visit by the Minister of Interior, Lt.-General Abdulrahman Danbazzau, to the Government House, Port Harcourt.
Wike said that the security agencies in the state knew the cult kingpins terrorising flashpoints in the state.
He said: “The Security agencies have the profiles of all cult kingpins in different parts of the state and they know their locations.
“There is no wisdom in the politicization of security. Insecurity can affect anybody. You can never know the next victim of insecurity.”
He urged the security agencies and the Federal Government to deploy personnel to areas where the activities of the cult group are predominant in order to forestall repeated attacks.
“In every system, the security agencies know the flashpoints. Here, we requested for the strengthening of security around these flashpoints, especially areas with high prevalence of cultists. I expected that security would be beefed up in these places.
“I ask this question. Is there an orchestrated plan to tag Rivers State as unsafe? Is the situation above the security agencies despite the information we have made available to them?” Wike enquired.
He also blamed multinational oil companies for the explosion of cultism in some communities, pointing out that the multinationals award surveillance contracts to cultists.
Governor Wike noted that, when the cultists are equipped with funds from multinationals, they (cultists) procure sophisticated weapons and use them to terrorise communities.
He said that the State Government has made several requests to the Inspector General of Police for the deployment of special squads to tackle cultism and kidnapping.
According to him, the Inspector General of Police has failed to deploy the special squads to the state, despite the requests.
He said: “The peculiar nature of Rivers State requires peculiar intervention. Before now, I have been shouting that we need support to fight crime. I have made this complaint severally”.
The governor berated politicians who want to use the cult-related killings to play politics and make false allegations against the state.
Earlier, the Minister of Interior, Lt.-General Abdulraman Dambazau, said he was in Rivers at the instance of President Muhammadu Buhari to assess the security situation of the state.
He commiserated on behalf of the president with the government and people of the state over the killings in Omoku, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni local government area.
“Rivers State is important to the country, particularly when it comes to the issue of the economy. It is very important that the Federal Government partners with the State to see how any security gaps can be closed for adequate protection of lives and property”, he said.